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Interesting article: Why aren't there more female food critics?

Teachers can also be template-creating authorities: Hazan, Harmon Jenkins, Rosetto Kasper, Costantino, Kamman, Child, Kennedy, Roden, Simeti, and many, many others. Their work makes at least as strong and very often a more permanent an impact as that of any critic. Anyone remember Seymour Britchky?

about 12 hours ago
bob96 in Food Media & News

Interesting article: Why aren't there more female food critics?

Yep. But except for the relatively recent phenomenon of those "written" by celebrity restaurateur chefs, women write (and acquire and edit) the overhwelming number of our cookbooks. Without them, I'd have hardly anything onthe shelf.

about 13 hours ago
bob96 in Food Media & News

Fred Plotkin on Italy's changing eating practice

I really don't think anyone here, or elsewhere, has no respect or gratitude for what Plotkin has done over the years. His guide has been sui generis. But his is not the only voice, or analysis, or perspective, as valuable and singular as his have been. He'd be one to acknowledge this. And I doubt, knowing something about him, that Fred would ever deny the pleasures of applause, either.

about 13 hours ago
bob96 in Italy

Fred Plotkin on Italy's changing eating practice

I don't worry much either, although there has been a major reduction in the number of farms, mostly small and medium, in Italy. On the other hand, 95% of all farms are still family owned and managed, even if farm labor is increasingly provided by foreign workers. Sure, you'll find salmon and Atlantic cod at fish markets in Sicily, and a large part of the Italian processed tomato trade relies on product from China and Israel, but that's the world. There are folks who worry about Trentino apples dominating the southern marketplace, or large-scale Puglian grape growers pushing out local cultivars. Or industrial cheeses appearing everywhere. You can't freeze frame an entire society as golden life on the piazza forever. But in Italy, as elsewhere, there's strong pushback to some of these trends, in food production and consumption and you can always stop by a roadside to harvest some wild fennel yourself. Or find a stand where someone has done it for you. Here's a link to the 2012 farm data.http://www.arc2020.eu/front/2012/08/a...

about 15 hours ago
bob96 in Italy

Good salad to precede clam linguine

I'd have a sliced orange-red onion-fennel-black olive w oil and lemon after the pasta. Before, why not a simple savory antipasto of roasted red peppers, capers, and anchovies. Maybe alongside some sliced soppressata and more green olves, too.

1 day ago
bob96 in Home Cooking

Grocery Shopping on Arthur Avenue

As far as I know, burrata is now mostly made from cow's milk, though it has been made also with latte di bufala. It's not to my taste, so I've not bothered to seek out best versions--for some retrograde reason, I'm perfectly happy with a really fresh fior di latte. I miss the plaited version--la treccia--that used to be very common in the latticini of my youth. I'd used to love to bring it home in its wet cardboard container and pull apart the strands. You'd buy mozzarella in salt, without salt, and as scamorza, really a few-days old and slightly firmer version. Casa and Calandra are fine producers; Mike's I always found to be slapdash in almost everything they make.

Apr 15, 2014
bob96 in Outer Boroughs

Best inexpensive wine?

You might notice a request for "earthy" wines like those from Chianti--a pretty broad term and one that can easily include at least a few from zin, syrah, and even cab, especially those at popular price points. And Chianti need not be a 'light" wine at all, of course.

Apr 15, 2014
bob96 in Wine

Grocery Shopping on Arthur Avenue

Here's a 2009 USDA report; it shows that Italy produced 4 million tons of tomatoes, 90% for processing, and exported 113,000 tons of processed tomato. It imported about 17,000 tons of fresh and prepared fruit, almost all for processing into sauces, some for re-exporting as a processed product. Tracebility is an issue, of course, like it has been with olive oils "packed in" or imported from Italy but sourced from other Mediterranean countries and then re exported; it's legal as long as it;s labelled properly. The Spanish find they make more money shipping large quantities of their enormous crop to Italy rather than try to build a high volume Spanish export trade. That may change. Frankly, I''m now most interested in quality, freshness, and taste, and less concerned about going nuts over origins. I buy extra virgin oil from producers I can trust, at a price that reflects it, and taste and taste to develop some knowledge of what the genuine article should be like. There's lots of very good stuff out there.http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAI...,

Apr 10, 2014
bob96 in Outer Boroughs
1

Piedmont Wines ~ very long

I'd add something from Carema or Gattinara-- northern Piemonte nebbiolo made in a somewhat more fragrant, "lighter" style than in the Langhe. Produttori di Carema offer labels under $25, and you can find good Gattinara from Travaglini or Vallone for about the same range.

Apr 10, 2014
bob96 in Wine

Grocery Shopping on Arthur Avenue

Thanks for the news about the Consorzio's own findings--have you a link to it? I'd like to explore a bit more. In the meantime, I keep trying and find labels that I like, and these change from time to time, no longer limited to "san marzano". I've not seen any 2013 harvest oils yer, but I;m no longer near a variety of shops that would carry them.I did see a Spanish picual evoo from a respected coop in Andalucia for a fair price, tried it, and found it fresh and strongly flavored. Most use-by dates are now showing 2015 on many bottles, and many producers claim to have a 2-year span, so I'm guessing some at elast are from the early 2013 harvest. The Kirkland/Costco Tuscan IGP shows a fall, 2013 harvest date, and tastes like it. Good value.

Apr 10, 2014
bob96 in Outer Boroughs

“Authenticity,” he confided to me, “is a bourgeois value posing as an aesthetic one.”

Seems as if there's little distinction being made here between food cooked and served commercially--whether from food trucks or restaurants--and food made at home. For the former, there always has to be some "traditional or "standardized" reference point for customers (ok, eaters) to create expectations, even if the chef banks on re-working, revolutionizing, or whatever. Whatever: old-school or new-school, I think it has to start with a chef making some claim on "tradition" or "authenticity" based on his or her perceived authority, and our lack of same. Restaurants are about rules, wherever they come from. (Though that can backfire--my father, a food-obsessed first generation Italian, would regularly complain to waiters in typical Brooklyn places that This is not the way real chicken scarpariello is made"--how he knew this, who knows?--and the waiter would usually shrug and say, "Well, that's how we make it" and walk away. Dad would eat it with relish anyway. For home cooks, seems to me, that authenticity or, more commonly, tradition, almost always begins with memory, even if what's being remembered might itself be a little peculiar to that family or not even, by most standards, representative of a larger tradition. And that memory can start a road to creating a new dish in its name. The number of "traditional" variants of any single dish (and I'm only really familiar with Southern Italian-Italian American) can be staggering. A broad culinary template/practice may define the style or use or meaning of these dishes, but much below that level? And frankly, I've had more than few proudly traditional dishes I'd never want to eat again. They served different needs and tastes, stood for different domestic and cultural worlds.

Apr 09, 2014
bob96 in Food Media & News

Grocery Shopping on Arthur Avenue

Teitel's DOP san mrzons are really a greta buy; they used to be packed not in sludgy puree but in liquid, which lends afresher taste. Some packers, btw, are using "San marzano" loosely--Nina says its are "packed" in the region, but really they could be a plum tomato variety from anywhere in Italy; Cento caught heat by selling something called "certified San Marzano', which they claimed were DOP in all; but seal only--they tried to make the case about needlessly restrictive/costly regs. Thry're usualy a dependable outfit, so I was dismayed by this ploy. But while there's no sesne that the DOP label is "meaningless" there's really no way to absolutely guarantee DOP sourcing if packers are forging labels and serial numbers. Same for DOC or AOP wine--and even then, the wine may be legit but still be a poor version of the standard. This deceit, if there is any, shouldn't last long, given more vigilance in Italy (and Brand Italy's fear of even more scandal), but you can only taste. And it's also useful to remember that DOP, like its equivalents for wine and other products, only guarantees that standards of origin, growth, production, and baseline taste and composition are met--not quality or even tasting pleasure. I keep experimenting with labels, and expect seasonal variation, too--I've even taking to blending different brands based on their typical taste profiles: for a while, san marzanos seemed to have little freshness and acid, so I'd mix with another can that did.

Apr 09, 2014
bob96 in Outer Boroughs

Stuff you miss at the market

I realize this might have been a particular time and place, but back in my old Brooklyn nabe. the Italian greengrocers not only selected your produce--according to when you wanted to use it (Joe, I need a honeydew for tonight) , or how fresh it was (Ah, wait till next week for better tangerines)--but always squeezed a little tuft of basil or parsley into your brown bag. Going to the butcher was a sit down chat about families and the week. and he knew to what thinness your cutlets needed to be pounded, and would throw in bones or soup meat; the baker knew if you took seeded or unseeded bread, and in what shape. And around Christmas, ever purveyor had an open bottle of sherry or vermouth for sharing a drink with customers. On the other hand, you could not buy provisions after 6pm, or on Sunday afternoons.

Apr 07, 2014
bob96 in General Topics
1

Authorities on Italian Cuisine (Hazan, Gosetti, Batali, and Lidia)

Very thorough, very useful, and as much a culinary geography and history as it is a book of recipes. I'd recommend twining it with Colman Andrews' book on the Riviera that stretches from Nice through to Liguria--a different, complimentary approach and just as useful and fascinating. What you find are lots of very old, simple, very local recipes, both from the coasts and the rugged and once very poor back country or entroterra.

Apr 07, 2014
bob96 in Home Cooking
1

Grocery Shopping on Arthur Avenue

Yes please do not miss Borgatti's for amazing fresh pasta, including great ravioli. There is nothing like it anywhere. Farther east along E187St, Terranova Bakery I think has the most traditional, delicious hard crust pane di casa, although either Addeo or Madonia could also be the best Italian bread bakery in any other city. Teitel the first stop for basics (not a great fan of their limited olive oil supply, though), and the Boiano brothers produce in the market can be a great find for things like baby artichokes, moscato grapes, escarole and other greens, and figs--but as Erica notes, quality can be dicey, hit or miss. The shop just across from Boiano's (not Mike's Deli) has a wide range of dried pastas, speciality cheeses, packaged foods, and olive oils, but watch out for old oil. Stopped buying much meat a while back, but when I did, Peter's was my choice--the folks there are terrifically helpful and skilled. You can draw your own opinions about Mike's Deli, though.

Apr 07, 2014
bob96 in Outer Boroughs

Authorities on Italian Cuisine (Hazan, Gosetti, Batali, and Lidia)

Batali vs Lidia. I eagerly bought Batali's first book, and then a subsequent one on holiday cooking, but made almost nothing from either one: I've always liked his restaurants, but the recipes seemed overly contrived and just a little off for my taste. His later books certainly seem more mainstream, though I've not had any interest in getting them. I've found Lidia's books relatively more valuable for their scope and flexibility, but feel no need to keep up with them. I can't speak to the Gossetti della Salda; my main interest now is in collecting cookbooks that go deeply into local and regional cooking: Arthur Schwartz on Naples and Campania, Fred Plotkin on Friuli and Liguria, Colman Andrews on Liguria, too, Rosetta Costantino on Calabria, Nancy Harmon Jenkins and Viana La Place on Puglia, and so on. I've not explored Italian counterparts to these, but do follow a number of Italian websites and blogs devoted to regional food and wine. Don't forget Bugialli, either.

Apr 07, 2014
bob96 in Home Cooking

Enough with the schmeer. The 80's are over.

So am I, but what has dear Lord has become of the schmear? Used to be totally understood as a very light coating of cream cheese (or, less common, butter): now, every bagel behemoth is filled with at least half an inch of the stuff. I spend more time trowelling it off, no matter what I tell the folks behind the counter. Ya think they'd be happy to save on their schmears.

Apr 07, 2014
bob96 in General Topics

Digestivo store in Brooklyn?

Astor has had it; Mt Carmel Wine in the Bronx (Arthur Ave) has had it. It's now owned and made by Distilleria Caffo, the Calabria-based producer of what I think is the finest of all amari, Vecchio Amaro del Capo.

Apr 06, 2014
bob96 in Outer Boroughs

Fred Plotkin's book

Jen, it's got an April 2014 pub date, this 5th edition. The pub site and amazon say nothing of the amount or type of updating (last edition was 2010).http://www.kylebooks.com/display.asp?...

Apr 06, 2014
bob96 in Italy

What is plonk, really?

When I hear "plonk" I think of the time when wine was a mere beverage--sold by degre (11, 12, etc) in "Vins et Charbons" shops run by Auvergnats in Paris and other big towns. I'm old enough to remember seeing them in Paris in the summer of 65. This morphed into the Nicolas and other negociant bottled mass table wines of no major defects, little character, and no specific provenance, perhaps except for Languedoc and maybe Puglia. Wine was like water at a meal, or a petit blanc at a cafe. I do remember, though, how wonderful it was to discover "small" country wines as house wines--a St. Pourcain in Lyon, a Crepy in Grenoble, a fresh Cotes du Rhone by the vrac from a coop in Rochegude. These were not, I think, plonk at all.

Apr 04, 2014
bob96 in Wine

Best inexpensive wine?

Reds only here There are a number of rich, earthy garnachas from Spain (Borsao, for one) at or under $10 a bottle. There are also smooth and rich Douro and Tejo reds from Portugal (look for Periquita, too) that are usually great values for about the same price. Malbecs from Argentina come in all price ranges, and can be dependably solid reds, but I find they often lack a little soul. Alamos, Dona Paula, Trapiche, Norton are some dependable labels. From France, Colombo's Cotes du Rhone, Perrin's reserve Cotes du Rhone (as well as their cheaper La Vielle Ferme reds and whites) fit your bill. From Italy, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo from producers like Illuminati, Farnese, and Mascarello are always worth it.

Apr 04, 2014
bob96 in Wine

Fusilli you crazy bastard

They might have been a version of "fileja", a traditional home made pasta from Calabria that also has different names; I've heard this general shape referred to as "fusilli". Some are longer than others, some rolled around a knitting needle or metal bar. They resemble the Tuscan pici.

Mar 31, 2014
bob96 in Food Media & News

Vegetarian caldo verde

I think there are some natural limits to a caldo verde (meatless or not) and that can be fine. I've made it with greens, onion, white beans,and potato alone, and it;s comforting. But when just before serving you add a few fat cloves of garlic slowly sauteed in very good fruity extra virgin olive oil alongside some lengths of dried red hot pepper, it comes to life. Also, remember that a Portuguese partner is classically broa, a moist, dense, slightly sweet corn and wheat flour country bread. The contrast with any similar bread works beautifully. A side of hot pepper sauce or a plate of black olives and sliced sweet onion is fine, too. Anchovies can also take the flavoring place of chourico, but on a different note.

Mar 28, 2014
bob96 in Home Cooking

Fusilli you crazy bastard

This longer Neapolitan fusilli is the only one we had--and may well have been the only one available under that name--growing up in NY. Usually labelled "fusilli col buco," or with a hole, they're still available industrially-made and from smaller pastifici, and the forms recall an old fashioned past--they're packaged bent in half, as if they'd just been draped to dry over a long rod. I love them--they cook quickly, broken by hand into normal 8" lengths, have great mouth appeal, and can be a perfect Sunday partner to a ragu. Another classic ragu match, ziti, used to be sold more commonly in the US as they are in Naples--in 8" tubes, to be cracked by half in hand and dropped into the pot of boiling water. Either works wonderfully for me, even if the cartoon might not.

Mar 28, 2014
bob96 in Food Media & News

Five of the Best Italian in NYC (per the Financial Times)

East 12th Street and First Ave is "East Greenwich Village"?
Never knew.

Mar 24, 2014
bob96 in Manhattan

2 weeks trip from Rome to Sicily to eat amazing food

Might be more helpful if you indicated your route, and where you're looking to plan on stopping. I assume you'll be taking the autostrada to Naples and then south to Reggio Calabria/Villa San Giovanni for the ferry. There are clusters of CH posts worth searching for areas along the way--heading southward, Naples itself and surroundings, the Amalfi coast, the Cilento coast, Basilicata/Maratea, Calabria (Scalea, Altomonte, Cosenza, PIzzo-Tropea, Scilla) and on to Sicily. Then again, there;s the lign way round across to and down the Adriatic coast, through Abruzzo, Molise, and Puglia.... Buon viaggio!

Mar 22, 2014
bob96 in Italy

I can't eat at our local Chinese restaurant anymore.

You sure did. Lost in the thread I am.

Mar 22, 2014
bob96 in General Topics

I can't eat at our local Chinese restaurant anymore.

Odd that no one seems to wonder about the effect a presence (or absence) of Chinese and Chinese-American eaters has. It is they who have recharged old Chinatowns and formed new ones, and sustain a Chinese presence and standard without physical borders that keeps restaurants honest.

Mar 21, 2014
bob96 in General Topics

Neighborhood Lunch Spots Near the Metropolitan/Guggenheim Museums

Having lived on 96th and Madison for some time, second Pascalou and Le Paris. Island, across the street, is also a possibility for Hamptons-esque standards in a comfortable space.

Mar 20, 2014
bob96 in Manhattan

Tell me about: Faisandage

Mar 20, 2014
bob96 in General Topics